Movie Review: First Knight (1995)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1995 movie starring Richard Gere and Sean Connery.

Synopsis: Guinevere, ruler of Lyonesse, decides to marry King Arthur as a way of protecting her people from the rebellious Prince Malagant and his men. However, on her way to Camelot, she meets and falls in love with a traveler named Lancelot and falls in love with him. After he saves her life and becomes a Knight of the Round Table, she must choose between her feelings for him and her duty to the king.

Who's In It?

Review

We decided to take my daughters to one of our area outlet malls yesterday so they could shop for some new winter coats. This proved to be much more exhausting than expected and, after finally getting home and taking out the garbage, the only thing I wanted to do was sit on the couch for a while. 

There wasn't much on TV at the time so, when I came across this film on one of our movie channels, I decided to take the time to watch it. I had seen it in the past and wasn't overly impressed with it the first time I watched it. But, I also figured all movies deserve a second chance. Unfortunately, in this case, the movie still wasn't very good.

To be fair, I do like the plot of the movie. In addition to the potential love triangle (which I've seen in other King Arthur-inspired stories), the ongoing threat from Prince Malagant (Cross) did have a way of keeping things interesting at times, especially since he always seemed to stay one step ahead of Arthur (Connery). My main problem with the film is the way the actors portrayed their characters.

Gere, for one, was actually pretty lousy as Lancelot. Let's face it, Lancelot's main attraction is he is supposed to be a young stud with a zest for life. Gere, who was in his 40s at the time this movie was made, really didn't look the part, even with the long hair and just never brought the energy the character needed. While I can understand the filmmakers' desire to bring in a well-known actor to play the role, they really should have gone with someone else.

I was also surprisingly disappointed in Connery's performance. The King Arthur role seemed to be meant for him, at least on paper. But, the movie's script kind of made him into a wimpier version of the legendary king. Let's face it, despite all the talk about protecting his new queen and her subjects, he didn't really do all that much to prevent Malagant from doing damage and, at times, seemed to be playing Arthur as a shell of his former self. 

This probably wouldn't have been that much of a problem if this wasn't meant to be a romantic film. But, in this case, it really doesn't work because Guinevere (Ormond) almost seems like she's Arthur's prisoner rather than a woman with a truly difficult decision to make. In other words, it would have been nice to see Connery's Arthur offering something that made her equally attracted to him as she was Lancelot, especially since, as I said, there really wasn't anything overly special about the latter.

Final Opinion

This film had some potential as an action movie. However, the love story that makes up the majority of the movie fails to take off, largely because of a poor casting decision with Lancelot and a wimpy/clueless version of Arthur. After watching it again, I can now understand why I didn't enjoy it the first time I saw it.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 11/16/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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